The Bottom Line
Introduction & Pricing, Availability and Specifications
Next to dual-band AC1900 solutions, tri-band is probably the next step for those on the upgrade path. These solutions come in both the AC3200 and AC5400 flavors and what you decide to purchase should mostly be based on what technology your devices are using. For most of us, we are lucky if our devices even have 802.11ac, even now at the end of 2016.
The Archer C5400 lives near the top of the 802.11ac food chain. This three-band solution shares similar hardware to the ASUS RT-AC5300 including the central processor, a Broadcom BCM4709. With this being a Broadcom platform solution, the C5400 takes advantage of NitroQAM to boost the 2.4GHz band to 1000 Mbps while each of the 5GHz bands operating at 2167 Mbps. The wireless radios for this solution are a 4x4 MU-MIMO setup coupled with RFMD power amps for the 5GHz radios and Skyworks for the 2.4GHz.
Most of what I have mentioned is listed in the specifications sheet above, but we do have a few additions including four Ethernet ports placed on the back next to a gigabit WAN. USB is limited to a single 2.0 and single 3.0 port but is complimented by a series of buttons for WPS, reset, LEDs, and wireless.
The MSRP of the TP-Link Archer C5400 comes in at $299.99 with a two-year warranty.
Packaging is nearly identical to past TP-Link solutions, although I suspect with the logo change what you see on retail shelves could change in the future. To the right, you get an image of the router with information to the left and down below.
On the backside, we have a large graphic representation of each band.
The scope of delivery includes the power brick, Ethernet cable, and reading materials.
Taking our first look at the router itself, we find it similar to the AC3200 model we tested a few months ago. I like this design; being so compact it saves quite a bit of room. All eight antennas pop up from the case.
The front panel houses LEDs to the left for each band, power, and USB while the right side has switches for wireless, WPS, and the LEDs.
On the back, the I/O connections have the four gigabit LAN ports grouped together and the WAN port to the left and USB 3.0 to the far right.
Management GUI Details and Test System Setup
Tyler's Router Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: ASUS Z170 Premium - Buy from Amazon
- CPU: Intel Core i5 6500 - Buy from Amazon
- Cooler: Noctua NH-U12S - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Memory: Klevv CRAS 16GB (4x4) DDR4 3000 - Read our review
- Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- OS Storage: Intel 730 480GB SSD - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Secondary Storage: Intel 750 400GB U.2 SSD - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Case: Thermaltake P5 - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Power Supply: Thermaltake Toughpower Grand 1200 - Buy from Amazon
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 - Buy from Amazon
The Web GUI across many of the TP-Link solutions are the same. The C5400 shares this with its counterparts, and as such, we start with this rather familiar front page.
Diving right into the wireless settings, we have the option during setup to name each of the three bands to our liking.
The dashboard gives a quick glimpse at the status of your network. As you can see, I have five wired clients connected along with a single wireless client. To the left, we have the menu that we will go through in a moment, but at the top right, there are software options for the LEDs, along with a reboot option.
The basic settings allow you to customize wireless SSID and passwords.
Not many routers on the market include the option for a 3G/4G modem to be connected to the router. In fact, off the top of my head, I can only think of ASUS as the other vendor to do this. There is also the option for storage via USB and printer sharing.
Benchmarks- Wired, Wireless Throughput and Wireless Range
With my new chart layout, the Archer C5400 sits right near the middle in LAN to LAN at 941 Mbps.
WAN throughput was again near the middle of the pack at 917 Mbps.
In 2.4GHz testing, the C5400 lands seven spots from the top at 234 Mbps on the 40MHz band and 124 Mbps on the 20MHz band.
5GHz performance can be a bit confusing with this chart, but the Archer C5400 lands right at 437 Mbps on the 80MHz while 20 and 40 reached 153 Mbps and 196 Mbps, respectively.
Benchmarks – File Performance & Final Thoughts
Looking at file performance for the Archer C5400, I was disappointed to see just 50 MB/s read for both file sizes.
I figured a router as powerful as this would surely push closer to 90 with ease, but it comes down to firmware tuning. For write performance, the same thing can be said, with a peak of 45 MB/s.
If you haven't noticed, a lot of routers come through the lab here at TweakTown. I get a few every month and so even for me it becomes difficult to put one router above the next because they all serve a purpose. The C5400 is my second AC5300/5400 with the first being that massive Nighthawk X8, that now lives in the home of our SSD editor. I loved everything about the X8; it had great performance and range, but the downfall was its size. It was way too big for my living room, luckily TP-Link thinks just like me and produces some of the latest 802.11ac tech in smaller footprints, like the C5400.
The build quality is rather good, although I'd be wary of dropping this thing with its antennas in the outward position. The power brick is perfect; it's not going to block outlets like the massive bricks we sometimes see from other vendors.
Performance is certainly there; the C5400 was near the upper middle of each chart which is quite good for a solution to be so consistent. LAN to LAN topped 940 Mbps while WAN touched 917 Mbps. In wireless throughput, I was quite happy to see this solution pull in 234 Mbps in 2.4GHz and a peak of 437 Mbps in 5GHz. With that said, file performance could have been better over USB 3.0, but I have a feeling most of you using USB on this solution will love the ability to connect a 4G modem when you're on the road or when your primary Internet connection goes down.
In the end, there isn't anything about the C5400 I don't like; it's a top to bottom solid solution. I had no issues during testing or the month I used it prior to setting up my mesh network. Honestly, though, with its MSRP coming in at $299.99, it's hard for me to recommend it to you with so many mesh solutions right on the horizon.
|Quality including Design and Build||85%|
|Bundle and Packaging||85%|
|Value for Money||75%|
The Bottom Line: It's hard for me to recommend any conventional router with the market changing as it is right now but any consumer that needs the 4G modem functionality, the C5400 may be one of the quickest options available.
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